Sunday, November 28, 2004

First, the e-mail address for this site is which Tammy reminds me I haven't posted in an entry recently.

Shirley rightly points out that the summary of the "Red" States series at the top of "Red" States Part IV says part I serves a "summary" but that implies a conclusion (to something still being written) so the correct term is a guideline or a framework. When the summary of the series thus far appears in Part V, I'll use that term.

On The Laura Flanders Show right now a guest is citing Senator Kent Conrad and his staff finding the provision that would allow Congress members and their staff (believe on the appropriations committee, but go to the entry "It's Just Another Day, Another Episode"
to check that. (And thanks to Shirley for suggesting I do that with the "Red" State series in my summary at the top so people can more easily refer to.)

I bring that up because there are a number of e-mails suggesting that, yes, Senator Conrad has been pushed as the "perfect example" (Debbie's term) as well as e-mails suggesting that in talking about my impressions of him from TV previously were "overly harsh" (Joel's evaluation).
Again, Conrad has been speaking out and I applaud him for that. For those who feel my initial impressions of him were overly harsh, they may well be. They were certainly wrong to judge by the work and statements he's been making lately.

Gail Chaddock (Christian Science Monitor) was the guest Laura Flanders was speaking with (the one who brought about Senator Conrad). (The one I mentioned above.)

Frank in Orlando feels that "first you slash and burn Adam [Nagourney] and now you're going over Jodi [Wilgoren]!" In a series of e-mails, Frank questions my noting the 24 pounds Wilgoren wrote about losing and quoting her on that in "Red" States Part IV.

Frank says that was mocking "Jodi's very serious weight problem." As I've stated before, I pretty much do not watch TV. If Wilgoren does have a weight problem (if), I'm not sure why Frank feels I should know about. Frank supplies a link to something calling her a "Ho Ho queen" -- I'll note it later in this post because Frank says "Your readers need to know she has a weight problem and if you don't [link] you're hiding what you did which is really evil."

Wilgoren personal life, from her loss of 24 pounds to her wedding, wouldn't have been an issue had she not elected to write about it on the pages of the Times. Reading that article, it appeared to me that the problems I found with her writing could reflect on the fact that her wedding planning was competing with her duties as a campaign reporter. That was my theory. People can post or e-mail their own theories.

We don't have any answers. Which is a point made near the end of "Red States" Part IV regarding the media damage that leads to easy "answers" like "values" or spotlighting "issues" like wind surfing:

To judge what issues mattered in the campaign, perhaps the media should address which issues (and trivia) they chose to embrace? And when judging the Kerry campaign's turnout in states that they didn't even make campaign priorities, we might want to consider the type of "informed" coverage they were left with since their state wasn't deemed a battle ground.

The point I apparently didn't get across was that the media "entertained" us instead of informing us. Why that happened is something the media needs to address. Wilgoren might argue that her coverage is something she's proud of. If so, she could explain what she sees in her reporting that is worthy of pride. I don't see anything to be proud of.

I offered that I believe she lacked campaign experience and if you're of the mind that her reporting was not worthy of her topic, that may be all you need to know. Janeane Garofalo and Sam Seder wondered if she was just bored. That's a valid question. Based on the story the Times published, I wondered if she was preoccupied with her wedding planning. Those are theories. I don't know that any or all are true.

But I do feel that engaging in what the media did cover, how they covered and attempting to figure out why it was covered that way is worth more attention than these superficial feature stories being filed on "values" or whatever.

Jonathan writes in to say that he's a lawyer. Regarding my friend who planned a wedding in two scheduled days off he congratulates her. But he notes that at his firm if Wilgoren were an attorney and had publicly made the statements she made in "View: The Wedding Candidate on the Trail" the partners would have removed from all cases. He says those remarks could be the grounds for an appeal of any case she lost because "she's clearly distracted judging by her own statements."

Grounds for an appeal is a very good point, were Wilgoren a lawyer, and I'm glad Jonathan alerted me to that. Wilgoren has elected to do a job that is demanding and that requires one's attention. Her coverage has impact. She can offer, as one Washington Post staffer did in Howard Kurtz's analysis of the Washington Post's lead up to war coverage, the belief that she or the paper wouldn't have made any difference no matter how they covered it. But as a friend who writes for a major daily said to me when he read Kurtz's article, "If you really believe that, why are you putting out a paper?" Good questions. Or if you or your paper make no difference, why run editorials advocating this or that?

"I couldn't have made a difference" is an easy cop-out for people who don't want to take responsibility and, with me anyway, it just doesn't cut it.

Someone writes that my views are one sided. I'd agree. (The e-mailer didn't sign his/her e-mail.) That's why they're my views. I'm not disagreeing with "someone" at all. He/she is 100% correct.

15 more people have e-mailed to say that they, like Eli and the woman in "Red" States Part IV,
also were frustrated to find that their areas had no Democratic headquarters. Four were from states where the vote went overwhelmingly for Kerry and, as Ann noted, "This is something we need answers about no matter if we're in a blue state or a red state."

Many of you are noting that you are bothered by Kagan commenting on the presidential candidate John Kerry (see and that you are either contacting Dvorkin or planning to. To those planning to, please contact him. Some of you are e-mailing that you have contacted WBUR regarding the issues jnagary's posted reply to "When NPR Fails You Who You Gonna Call, Not the Ombudsman" (see earlier link in this e-mail).

Some of you are asking when the next installment of "Red" States will appear. It was intended to appear tonight. (No, it's not written yet.) However, there was some sort of "internal error" that I repeatedly got when attempting to log in. As the problem persisted, I decided to spend time answering e-mails.

Please feel free to e-mail (or continue to e-mail in some cases); however, I'm trying to make myself be brief in replies as soon as this post goes up. The e-mails are a pleasure to read but attempting to reply to them in the detail they deserve is taking up more time than I currently have. So I may end up resorting to one or two lines in a reply once this entry is posted.

Please do not take that to mean a lack of interest on my part. As I explained to one e-mailer today, "Red" States Part IV took seven hours to write. (I know, it doesn't show.)

I'm getting a lot of questions on why I'm not putting "The" in "The New York Times" into italics.
I had thought that "the" was an article that wasn't part of the title. I'm probably wrong on that and will check into it. I didn't major in English, as is obvious to anyone reading these posts.

And on that topic, Sue Ann of Big Sandy, Texas (she said to bill her that way) asks if, judging by my many typos and grammatical mistakes, English is my second language? I wish. I wish I could say I was fluent in at least one language. (I am assuming Sue Ann was joking and making fun of my mistakes. I am not attempting to insult anyone brave enough to attempt to master a second language.)

Janet writes again to say, "You quoted Bruce Springsteen but you still haven't gone back to using songs." Believe it or not, I'm always intending to. And then I'm so grateful to be at the end of a post that I hit "publish" without remembering to include a song.

For Julia in Tulsa whom I broke a promise to, here's the Nyro lyric you mentioned that I intended to use this past week:

Come on people sons and mothers
Keep the dream
of the two young brothers
gonna take the dream
and ride the dove
we could build the dream with love
I got fury in my soul
fury's gonna take me to the glory goal
in my mind i can't study war no more
save the people
save the children
save the country
-- "Save the Country" words & music by Laura Nyro

Julia's been recommending the CD Spread Your Wings and Fly: Live at the Filmore East May 30, 1971 which is a new release of a Nyro concert. Julia, I did get it and listen to it. If you like Laura Nyro (as Julie and I do), this is a must have for your collection. (Provided you've got the money to spend on a CD.)

Now because Frank in Orlando insists that readers will not know how "truly evil" I am for mentioning Wilgoren losing twenty-four pounds, at his request, I'm about to post something.
I want to state first of all that this a parody web site called Ad Nags. (WARNING: the web site I'm about to provide a link to uses objectionable language that may get you in trouble depending on your work place guidelines if you view the site while on the job:

The people here are pretending to be famous reporters, pundits, et al. The entry Frank's referring to is by "Cokie" who, I'm guessing, is not the real Cokie Roberts. So before you read it, please realize that this is parody and not fact. I'm no fan of Cokie Roberts, but do not read the following and then leave with impression that in real life Cokie Roberts and Norah O'Donnell are attempting to sideline Andrea Mitchell so that O'Donnell can take over Mitchell's duties at NBC.

It's a parody. It's meant to be funny. The "people" listed in the entry are Alan Greenspan (whom we all know but we may not know that he's married to Andrea Mitchell), Jodi Wilgoren (of course), Elisabeth Bumiller (who covers the White House for the Times), Maureen Dowd who writes op-eds for the Times, and Kit (Katherine?) Seelye who writes for the Times. Oh, Daniel Okrent is mentioned as well and he's the public editor for the New York Times. Oh and the "you" it's written to is Adam Nagourney (reporter for the New York Times).

Again, note, this is parody. This is not real. (For instance, Wilgoren's wedding is due to take place on December 5th so Cokie Roberts could not have yet attended it.) Here is "Cookie" (who signs "Kooky Cokie to you!"):

I’m not even sure if I went to JODI’s wedding? Did it happen yet? Either it did and I went or I had the weirdest dream. JODI looked lovely in her WEDDING PONCHO and all was well until she sneezed and the back of her PONCHO RIPPED. Then either ELISABETH or MAUREEN or KIT started LAUGHING and POINTING at JODI. It was hard to tell who was underneath which BURKA. JODI proved she can be a DRAMA QUEEN in real life and not just in print by STOMPING OFF. And when the wedding was finally back, no one could find the groom. Finally he turned up with you in the men’s room. You were HELPING HIM WITH HIS ZIPPER, or that’s what NORAH told me. Then at the reception, the ICE SCULPTURE almost decapitated ANDREA MITCHELL. It was so shocking and, honestly, ALAN looked as though he might have a heart attack. NORAH was sobbing and I was patting her gently on the back and repeating, “NEXT TIME” over and over.

JODI had changed for the reception into a SLIMMING BLACK DRESS which didn’t do much for her but then it’s not a cure all, it can only do SO MUCH. And all the sudden DANIEL OKRENT shows up drunk, dressed in JODI’s WEDDING PONCHO chanting, “KERRY LOOKS FRENCH! KERRY LOOKS FRENCH!” while slamming HOSTESS CUPCAKES and TWINKEES into his mouth. Yes, we all call JODI the HO-HO QUEEN, but BEHIND HER BACK. That was so tasteless. Or as that compassionate soul MAUREEN put it, “WEDDING HOUSE OF HORRORS. JODI showed up looking like RICKIE LAKE in HAIRSPRAY II: THE BIG TOP! SWIRLING around in her FLOWING PONCHO, JODI was bound & determined that everyone know SHE FINALLY CAUGHT HERSELF A MAN even if she did have to TROLL through every EX-GAY support group with a QUEER EYE FOR THE STRAIGHT GUY to land him. FLOUNCING down the aisle with all the grace of a BURLY TRUCK DRIVER and looking like SHERRIF LOBO’s more rugged, older brother, JODI was like SHELLY WINTERS in The Poseidon Adventure which may explain why most of us are rooting for her to die.” Adam, if Maureen’s commentary doesn’t seem it’s usual pithy blend of pop-culture and snide asides, blame it on me. I’ve got a broken heart I can’t even feel. I can’t even remember my motto. Something like DAY FORWARD I MATTER. I’m lost adrift.“Column done.” Yes. Well I’ll go swallow a handful of pills and hopefully get some sleep. I don’t know how Judy did it. Garland, not Miller.

Frank in Orlando notes that "many publications" have talked about this blog "including Columbia Journalism Review" and that the "only reason" I could have for not linking is that I want to conceal how "really evil" I am. I did e-mail him that linking to this article could be construed as "cruel" if indeed Wilgoren does have a weight problem. (Or for that matter, if she only thinks she has a weight problem.) Frank replied that I was "running scared people will see the kind of person you really are."

[Actually, people could feel it is cruel for any number of reasons not having to do with Wilgoren. And they don't have to be a fan of Okrent, Mitchell, O'Donnell, etc. to feel that way. If you don't think I should have linked or copy and pasted, please let me know. I'm tired and won't claim this decision was made without hesitation.]

So it's posted. I don't know that it says anything about me or how evil I am (or am not) but maybe it will give someone an easy laugh? I've scanned the site and I want to add that although this is humor, I think it's underscoring the level of "clowning" (Bob Somerby's term) that goes on in our press corp. Consider it Mad Magazine with a point and that it may offend some people. (I'm sure I'll hear about that.)